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New rules for electric scooters on London’s roads

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Samuel Brent
Sam is a born and bred North Londoner. Growing up in Archway, attending primary school at Montem Juniors in Holloway, and secondary school at Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park. After success with his A-Levels at LA SWAP, he studied film at the London College of Printing (later the London College of Communication) in the Elephant and Castle and then Clerkenwell. This led to working with the Guardian in Farringdon, and a career in Journalism. After years of a miss-spent youth in Camden Town, Sam now lives in Belsize Park with his wife Marina and their two children, Esme and Primrose. Samuel enjoys Gardening and cycling, and is an avid Arsenal fan and works out of his office in Shoreditch.

Electric Scooters in London are not an unusual sight. Plenty whizz past in our parks, roads and pavements, but they are actually illegal on public roads in the UK due to not been classified or recognised under the Highways Act.

But recent rule changes for rental scooters mean they are now legal on roads in Great Britain to ease pressure on public transport amid the coronavirus crisis.

Soon, the whole of the UK will benefit from a greener and more convenient alternative to the car, said Patrick Studener, Head of Bird’s EMEA division. With public transport in the capital overloaded, the TFL and the Tube, the Government needs to innovate quickly to keep London moving, and with the introduction of electric scooters, this will be the case.

Technological innovators, including Lyft and Uber, have been prevented from creating alternative public transport networks by sharing scooter rental systems because of outdated UK laws. While e-scooters are legal in much of the EU and the US, they are banned from the market in the US due to restrictions that classify them as motorised vehicles. The notification removes the previous restrictions, which classified them as motor vehicles and therefore provided for a licence, taxation and licence for operators to use these vehicles.

The rules also mean that e-scooters will not be allowed on pavements which is greatly supported by blind and children charities, with the only exception in the city centre and in areas with high traffic, such as Canary Wharf. This could be seen as a major trend, as other cities are also trying to relax the rules to improve transportation options for people who want to distance themselves socially, but electric scooter speed is an on-going concern.

woman escooter

On 30 June, the Department for Transport gave the green light to battery-powered scooters for use on London’s roads from 29 June. Under the new rules, people will be allowed to rent a scooter. The electric scooter will only be allowed on London’s roads if the Department for Transport makes proposals that align the rules needed to make the new technology safe to operate. This means that drivers must comply with all the laws that apply to the vehicle, such as respecting traffic signals and following traffic instructions. It will be another way for tourists to travel around areas in London in order to view the iconic landmarks and locations.

How safe are Electric Scooters?

In July 2019 we began seeing reports in the national news of the Metropolitan Police seizing electric scooters and dishing out fines and warnings to those riding them. This action followed the death of TV presenter Emily Hartridge, who was tragically killed in a collision with a lorry while riding an electric scooter.

TV presenter and YouTube star Emily Hartridge in a 2019 electric scooter crash when she collided with a lorry at a roundabout in Battersea, south-west London. It was the first fatal collision involving an e-scooter in the UK.

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